In the late 1970s, Turkey faced intense political fragmentation as its parties each struggled for a majority; due to lack of consensus in the more civil channels of politics, the country’s tensions erupted into violence. With engagements between extreme leftists and ultranationalists culminating in a bloodbath, the military orchestrated a coup and instituted martial law under the pretext of restoring social order.
Immediately after the takeover, the junta suspended the constitution and banned all political parties—including labor unions; this drew the attention of the international community, particularly in the context of the global Cold War. As a crucial ally of the West, Turkey faced pressure to democratize and transition away from martial law.
William Meagher, who had previously worked in Turkey with the Agency for International Development, was recruited into the Foreign Service as the labor attaché to Ankara. With strong language skills and a labor management background, Meagher arrived some months after the coup to face the mandated freeze on labor movements by the government.